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Regular version of the site

Digital Professors Programme: New International Cooperation Opportunities

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Thanks to a recently launched programme, HSE University now hosts international scholars who teach remotely. The HSE News Service spoke about the initiative with First Vice Rector Vadim Radaev, as well as several teachers and students.

Remote collaborations with international colleagues have long been a regular practice for HSE University. In the past, this has been done primarily for research purposes. The new programme, however, engages international colleagues in teaching as well. Although the Covid-19 pandemic was not the reason for the programme, it undoubtedly was a catalyst.

Vadim Radaev, First Vice Rector

With border closures and many international colleagues unable to come to Russia, many scholars are willing to work online as they can’t leave their countries. This has enormously expanded our opportunities for international cooperation.

We invite international scholars to teach courses that we do not yet offer but would like to provide, or those that we do offer but require instruction at a more advanced level

We expect that this programme will allow us to enhance the quality of our academic offering and their relevance among students, as well as develop research centres at the University. We hope that HSE University’s full-time teachers also benefit from this new cooperation; they can learn from their colleagues and enhance their expertise.

Perhaps, some of our students may find a supervisor among the new specialists. In turn, our international colleagues may become interested in deeper engagement with HSE University in the future. Also, the possibility of moving to a permanent contract is not completely ruled out.

The first faculty to make use of the programme was the Faculty of Humanities, followed by the Faculties of Social Sciences and Computer Science, respectively. The number of hosts has been growing rapidly, with 11 out of 16 faculties having applied for funding so far.

Starting from the 4th module of this academic year, HSE University’s regional campuses joined the programme. New international colleagues are getting involved in lecturing, workshops, project and research seminars, as well as supervising student research papers. Most of them work with Master's students.


Most of these higher education institutions are located in the USA, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and France.

Furthermore, several of these universities are among the Top-100 of the QS and THE rankings:

  • Stanford
  • Oxford
  • University College London
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Melbourne
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Delft University of Technology
  • University of St Andrews
  • KU Leuven 
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Brown University
  • Humboldt University

Moreover, several experts also work in NGOs such as UN-Habitat, major corporations like Facebook, or global governance institutions such as International Monetary Fund.

About a third of the teachers are Russian citizens, but more than 80% of the courses are English-taught. The programme is intended for all faculties and all areas of study, so the range of courses will be significantly expanded in the future.

Wide Range of Courses

Most of the courses allow students to access global knowledge as provided by such globally renowned experts. For instance, Dr Oliver Boyd-Barrett delivered a series of lectures on Critical Political Economy of Media for the English-taught Master’s Programme in Critical Media Studies, which was launched this academic year at the HSE Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design. Dr Boyd-Barrett is the co-author of Media Imperialism: Continuity and Change. It is one of the most significant studies of the contemporary media landscape and was translated into Russian in 2018.

Another popular course, a project seminar held out of the Faculty of Humanities, is taught by Dr Lev Manovich. He is a Professor of Computer Science at the City University of New York and the founder of the Cultural Analytics Lab. This lab has developed projects for the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), New York Public Library, Google and other clients. Dr Manovich was born in Moscow and moved to the USA when he was 21.

Lev Manovich, Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Humanities

‘When I finish one lesson, I can't wait for another! In my module, we discuss a new topic, which has not been taught before, and there are no publications on it. Therefore, together with the students, we can come up with a new field of research. I am very pleased with my experience at HSE University and will be happy to teach here again.

Valeria Stratonnikova, Dr Manovich’s student

‘In creating our final project, Dr Manovich especially encourages undertaking an original approach to visualization. This is a great opportunity to apply illustration and graphic design skills and look at a cultural phenomenon in a new way! Another thing I like is the ongoing seminar chat we have with Dr Manovich on Telegram.’

Several courses have a focus on specific countries or region-specific knowledge. Such examples include History and Culture of the USA; History of Witchcraft and Magic in Europe and North America; Greek and Roman Epigraphy and Numismatics; Armed Conflict, War and Foreign Power Intervention in the Persian Gulf and Beyond; and others.

Other courses provide a global perspective to Russia-related topics. Thus, Dr Alena Ledeneva, a Professor at University College London, taught Informal Economy and Informality in Russian Society for the Master’s Programme in Russian Studies. Dr Ledeneva graduated from Novosibirsk State University and got her PhD at Cambridge University. She is a globally renowned expert in informal governance in Russia and beyond.

Dr Melnikov teaches a course on machine learning for students of two double degree undergraduate programmes: Data Science and Business Analytics (at the Faculty of Computer Science), and Economics

Oleg Melnikov, Visiting Lecturer, Big Data and Information Retrieval School

‘I meet with my wonderful team of fellow professors and teaching assistants on a weekly basis through Zoom, where we discuss our current work and plan for the coming weeks and months. In the future, we also plan to involve students in machine learning projects with American firms. We also plan to invite prominent researchers from the USA to take part in conferences and make presentations at HSE University.’

‘Teaching graduate students at HSE University is one of my most meaningful recent pedagogical experiences,’ notes Dr Boyd-Barrett, adding: ‘I can think of few things more vital than fostering better dialogue and university-level understanding between Russia and the USA. As we stand at the precipice of tectonic shifts in international relations, the perils of climate change and the threat of nuclear conflict, we scholars find ourselves entrusted with a unique and sacred mission: to reach across international borders and help nurture a collaborative sense of our complex world.’

Dr Melnikov lives in California and runs the Data Science department of a company based out of Palo Alto. For 10 years, he has been teaching courses in Machine Learning, Statistics, Neural Networks, Data Science, NLP and Python at Stanford, Berkeley, Cornell, the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins, and other American institutions of higher learning.

A distinctive feature of the programme is that it is the academic and research subdivisions eager to involve international scholars, can initiate the collaborative agreements and submit applications. They are received on a year-round basis and considered within a 30-day period. This procedure contrasts with the competitive selection for permanent contracts, whereby foreign colleagues can apply HSE University as part of a general open call.

The new Digital Professors Programme is administered by the Centre for International Faculty Support of HSE Department of Internationalisation. On their website, you can find all information on how to apply on behalf of your unit.

May 20, 2021